Age Differences in Personal Values: Universal or Cultural Specific?

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Abstract

Prior studies on value development across adulthood have generally shown that as people age, they espouse communal values more strongly and agentic values less strongly. Two studies investigated whether these age differences in personal values might differ according to cultural values. Study 1 examined whether these age differences in personal values, and their associations with subjective well-being, showed the same pattern across countries that differed in individualism–collectivism. Study 2 compared age differences in personal values in the Canadian culture that emphasized agentic values more and the Chinese culture that emphasized communal values more. Personal and cultural values of each individual were directly measured, and their congruence were calculated and compared across age and cultures. Findings revealed that across cultures, older people had lower endorsement of agentic personal values and higher endorsement of communal personal values than did younger people. These age differences, and their associations with subjective well-being, were generally not influenced by cultural values.

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